Friday, February 15, 2019

What I've Learned In A Year Of Sobriety



Who'd have thunk it? If you had asked me a few years ago if I would ever even take a break from smoking weed, let alone spend an entire year completely sober, I would have laughed/wheezed in your face. Being a stoner had become so completely wrapped up in my identity (and I was so thoroughly addicted!) that I couldn't even contemplate the idea.




But here I am, one year sober. It's been a year of big changes, and I firmly believe that I've been able to weather those changes because I'm learning how to deal with problems and stress in a much more constructive way now I'm not smoking. 

Now I have some time under my belt I can see the changes and improvements in myself. Firstly, I feel healthier. I'm sleeping better, my lungs feel cleaner, my eyes are brighter. I've saved the equivalent of my van tax, MOT and insurance (my version of rent!). And mentally I'm feeling much more focused - I've built a home, I've started a blog and a podcast, and am making plans for the future with an enthusiasm I haven't felt in a long time. My emotions feel more level too, and I feel like I have more mental space and energy now I'm not constantly distracted by finding and smoking weed. 

Over the last year I've learnt some things that have really helped keep me motivated to stay sober. Maybe the most important has been that everything takes time - you do not untangle yourself from an addiction overnight, but the more time you give it, the easier it becomes. I also learnt that my problems wouldn't all just go away when I stopped smoking. Life is still challenging, things are still hard or upsetting, but now I have to find new ways to deal with these things. And I'm finding that these new ways are better, more constructive and actually work towards finding solutions, rather than just covering things up. Cravings are something I've been learning to deal with; even a year later I can still get hit with the urge to smoke, and often I'll be doing something, like watching a movie or going for a walk, and feel like something is missing because I'm not smoking. It's taking time to re-wire my brain, but it's happening less and less, and when it does happen I'm learning not to beat myself up about it and just notice what is happening in the moment. Finally, I've figured out that I can still have fun, that I'm still the same person and I still enjoy the same things now I don't smoke. I don't need weed to be an interesting fun person. 

So what has helped me throughout this year? 

  • Learning about addiction has probably been the most helpful thing I've done. I've listened to podcasts, read books and articles, I've become interested in what's going on, rather than judgemental, and found a lot of information and resources that has made this process easier. 
  • Writing the blog and making the podcast has helped to keep me accountable, given me a focus and connected me to other people going through the same things.
  • I've said it before, and I'll say it again - meditation! It's early days with my meditation habit, but making the time to relax and quiet my mind is definitely helpful - I'm more aware of my thoughts and how I react to them.
  • Changing my lifestyle, travelling in the van and getting out of my old routines has helped me build new ones that don't involve smoking. 

Spending some time considering my sober year has helped me appreciate how far I've come, and really see how my life has improved in so many ways. I'm motivated and excited for the next year, and I hope that if you're looking for it, you find some inspiration and motivation from my story.

-Ems-

If you can relate to what you've just read, let's continue the conversation! Sharing stories is one of our most powerful tools, so leave a comment below, check out the FREEDOM junkies' facebook page, or join our group.

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